Remembering song

I remembered something this week. Something significant.

It happened on Christmas Eve, when I unexpectedly found myself singing Christmas carols in church. I love singing Christmas carols at any time — possibly because they’re among the few songs for which I can remember the lyrics. But when I found myself in the midst of a congregation of enthusiastic families, accompanied by a competent choir, I remembered how much I love choral singing.

Or maybe just singing in general…

It happened during ‘Oh Come all Ye Faithful’ and ‘O Holy Night’. The music started, the choir began… and my throat clogged up so I could barely sing. And tears started streaming down my face. (Embarrassing!) And that was when I realised how much I missed it.

Way back when I was at school, I sang in the choir. We performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Vivaldi’s Gloria and heaps of other magnificent choral works. I had a decent voice — decent enough to study singing for a few years, but not decent enough to get good grades. And when I left school and went to university I gave it all away.

In the years since (more than twenty of them) I haven’t sung much. There have been moments every so often — listening to the radio, alone on the beach, with friends around a campfire — but relatively few. My voice is terribly out of shape. I can’t hit the notes I used to, or generate the power, or master the tone.

But I still love singing. It makes me smile (and weep!). And I still find the urge to sing manifests often in response to great joy. (Think ‘the hills are alive’ moments…) I can’t think why I allowed myself to give it all away. Now it seems as though I’ve denied myself something critical to my being… as though I’ve been living — creating — with anย encumbrance.

The joy of singing is my inspiration of the week. What great loves do you think you might have forgotten? How do you plan to reclaim them? (I’m thinking about finding a local choir!)

Season’s greetings to all.


11 thoughts on “Remembering song

  1. That’s a beautiful story, Ellen. Singing is so tied to our emotions.

    Coincidentally, I’m going to have to say singing too. It’s not that I ever intentionally gave it up, but I went through a down period in my life (as we all do) and in those really dark times, I didn’t sing. When I started to climb out of that hole and tried to sing, the songs would bring back too many painful memories and somewhere along the line, I just stopped singing at all.
    One day I started singing again and I was happier than I had felt in a very long time. That’s when I realized how long it been since I had sung a song. I never realized I gave it up until that moment.

    Good luck in finding a chior ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thanks for sharing your story too, Kim. I don’t think I ever intended to abandon singing as such, but I did decide not to join the university choir and I didn’t enjoy singing lessons enough to continue them, so it all just petered out. I’ve thought many times in the past decade that I’d rather like to be a folk singer. I simply love the old ballads and my voice seems to fit that style of singing. (If only I could play the guitar!) But I think a choir is a good fit for someone who just wants to sing without getting too technical about it… and maybe I’ll make some new friends while I’m at it ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. How wonderful for you to find your singing voice again! As I’m sitting here with my morning coffee and contemplating what great loves I might have forgotten, it dawned on me that writing is one of things that I rediscovered and fully embraced a five or so years ago. It was a new awakening for me. I also really enjoy digging in the dirt and gardening but feel like there’s never enough hours in the day to devote to the tending of the plants like I should. I would like to reclaim that one come spring.

    I wish you the best of luck in finding a choir to join. Who knows, maybe it will also be an inspiration for the creative writing muse inside you as well. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. I like the idea of gardening, but somehow the reality of dirt under the fingernails and sticking to my arms/legs due to sunscreen doesn’t ever quite meet my expectations ๐Ÿ˜›

      I also think a regular outlet in song would be good for my creative muse — it will open up a different part of my brain (and get me away from a computer!). I think I’ve lost sight a little of the need for sensory input to complement this insane urge to write!


  3. I hear you, Ellen. I was in choirs and band through my teens and also played piano. Later I joined a church choir who had a fabulous director. I loved it. Haven’t sung or played in a number of years now, except when I visit my piano, I mean my mother, and I do miss it. One of these years I’m going to get a digital piano. In the meantime, I regularly do folk dance to live music, which is almost as good! Need music in my life somewhere….

    As for great loves, I vote for the outdoors. I grew up hiking with my family, but in recent years my walks have been limited to city parks and cemeteries (granted, Toronto has some lovely park walks). I’m about to embark on a grand travel adventure which will include some hiking…can’t wait!


    1. Just retrieved your comment from spam, Siri! I reckon folk dancing looks awesome fun. I contemplated taking that up for a while. Looks to be a pretty good workout, and social to boot.

      I love hiking and the outdoors too. The last significant hiking I did was in Nepal nearly 10 years ago. Loved it. I currently have a hankering to do the Mont Blanc circuit in Europe. Was going to try to coordinate with World Fantasy in Brighton, but it’s too late in the year. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  4. I envy you your singing talent. Sadly, I was asked to leave Glee Club in school…something about singing with feeling (code for LOUD) and being so off-key that I was throwing everyone nearby off, too.

    Ah, but when God takes in one area, he gives in another. I can draw! Pencil and charcoal are favorites. My stash of art supplies sits in an upstairs closet, having been neglected for several years. Your post has inspired me to dig out paper and pencil again. Thanks!

    It would be a wonderful thing for you to join a choir. Not only would you be able to sing with them, there’s the bonus of having a group of new friends.


    1. Er, I never said I had any talent for it… maybe a half talent. As I said, my voice is decent without being spectacular ๐Ÿ™‚
      But I do enjoy it. And perhaps I will get around to joining a choir. As you say – there’s always the opportunity to make new friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

      (I chuckled at the thought of you being asked to leave the Glee club — thanks to the TV show (which I adore) I now know what that is! Our school choir was somewhat more classical and choral… and there was definitely no dancing!)

      But I definitely cannot draw – alas. You are really lucky and should go right now to dig out your art supplies! I would so love to be able to draw my characters as I imagine them… Let us know via your blog how you go.


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